The first time I met Steve Carrell was on the set of the original "Anchorman."
I wasn't formally invited to the set, but a friend who was working on the film knew how excited I was about it being made, and he invited me to come down and see him while they were shooting on an exterior location. It wasn't easy to find them in the particular corner of downtown LA where they were working, but I eventually made my way there, just in time to see them setting up to shoot the giant rumble between Ron Burgundy and his friends and the rival news teams from around San Diego.
It's one of the craziest moments in the film, and it was even crazier standing there watching it unfold. When I watched them stage the moment where Brick, Carrell's character, killed a guy on horseback with a trident, I was sure we were never going to see that in the finished film. I had trouble believing something this gleefully ridiculous was ever going to make it intact to the screen for release.
The first time I met Steve Carrell was on the set of the original "Anchorman."
Adam McKay has made many funny films, but I think he'd be the first to admit that there is something special about "Anchorman."
Part of that is the script, which might be the most unfettered bit of madness that McKay and Will Ferrell have put together so far, a celebration of a breed of glorious idiot that is far too rare today. Part of that is the ensemble, packed with actors who were all completely in tune with the weird reality of the film, all of them free to try almost anything in front of the camera. And part of it is because broadcast news is so preposterously silly, especially on the local level, that you barely have to exaggerate to make it work.
I thought one of the best things about the film was the way they suggested the '70s in little details like the non-stop littering or the smoking in public, accentuating some of the worst of the decade with glee. When the sequel arrives in theaters in December, I'm excited to see how they have moved the cast up to the '80s, and it sounds like they are indeed dealing with the rise of the 24-hour-a-day news cycle thanks to the advent of the cable news networks.
As of this moment, I have been sent five e-mails that offer up variations on the following theme:
"Ha ha I knew you were a liar and Joseph Gordon Levitt is NOT BATMAN! HA HA!"
You guys are cute. Here's the thing, though… while I have no doubt El Mayimbe's latest piece on what's happening at Warner Bros is factually accurate, I also have no doubt that things are changing weekly at Warner when it comes to the future of their DC Universe movies, and that the piece I wrote about Joseph Gordon-Levitt was accurate when I wrote and published it.
I can't imagine what the development meetings on "Justice League" have been like for the last year or so, since the release of "The Avengers," but I'm guessing it's been an exercise in both optimism and frustration. I think they have every right to be optimistic based on all the great characters they own under the DC banner, and they absolutely should be frustrated because from an outsider's perspective, it looks like the entire company is asleep at the wheel.
Secrecy in Hollywood is a tricky thing.
When you're dealing with a collaborative art form, you have many people involved and at times, you have so many people involved that there is no way to keep them all locked down and on message, and things leak. I've been the beneficiary of those leaks many times over the years, and I've had filmmakers ask me if there is any way to keep things from getting out. There are ways to do it, but it can be tricky.
One of the most difficult points in the process to keep protected is casting because there is information that gets sent out to agencies, and in many cases, the entire script is also sent. I've gotten some of my best scoops from friends at different agencies, and there are certain films that I put on a list to let those friends know that something is a priority. Sometimes you end up with a story because you've been chasing it, and sometimes things just fall into your hands. It's a very strange process, all things considered.
I try not to pay too much attention to the reactions of others before I write a review, but sometimes it's hard to avoid. I saw Devin Faraci refer to the film as "an atrocity" on Twitter, and I saw Harry Knowles argue that Devin's the wrong audience and that it's a kid's film so Devin's reaction isn't fair. I've seen more reactions as negative as Devin's, and something I read actually compared the film to "The Princess Bride," which strikes me as something akin to blasphemy.
I was surprised by the vehemence of Devin's reaction, but equally disappointed that Harry seems to dismiss some very real issues with the film by simply excusing it as a kid's film. I think the frustrations I have stem from seeing things in the movie that suggest they could have pulled this one off. I think they got more right than wrong, but it's unable to come together as a cohesive experience, and I'd love to know how the choices were made that ultimately make it feel like it missed the target.
I think it's safe to say that if you've seen a trailer for "21 & Over," you know what you're in for when you see the film. At 93 minutes, this is a brisk, rowdy bit of fun, and the closest comparison I can make to a recent film is the underseen and underappreciated "Sex Drive," another comedy that took a fairly familiar form and made it work with sheer force of personality. I wasn't terribly surprised by anything in "21 & Over," but I appreciated the energy, the cast, and the near-constant attempts by the film to entertain.
Last year, there was much wringing of hands over the almost complete lack of a moral compass displayed by "Project X," and that seemed to me to be the point of the film. I think there is always a sense by society that each new generation is the one that is going to burn the entire thing to the ground, and that fear is probably exasperated these days by the way pop culture absorbs the attitudes of youth. I am not only confused by much of what appeals to teenagers today, I am actively irritated by it. And again… that's the point. It's not for me. It doesn't speak to me or for me. And when I watch movies about young people just turning 21 right now in the year 2013, I can't relate completely because my own coming of age was in a very different climate. I look at the attitudes to sexuality and technology and a dozen different things and I realize that I am wildly out of sync with them in the details of how we live.
It's James Wan's world this year, guys.
"The Conjuring" is first up for him, and it's become a major piece of the puzzle for Warner Bros this summer. They have been testing the film to phenomenal results for a while now, and when I say phenomenal, I mean it. The film tells one of the many stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the parapsychologist married couple who became well-known thanks in part to the Amityville Horror case. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star in the film, and word is they're both great in it. I hear it's scary, that it satisfies as a story, and that people really love the cast. I'm excited to see Farmiga and Wilson's takes on these iconic characters.
Not that there's a frame of them in the trailer.
I love that this entire trailer seems to be taken from one sequence or one section of the film, and that the emphasis here is on Lili Taylor. What's clear is that Wan has started casting the ever-lovin' crap out of his movies now, and that he's become one of the most consistent guys out there in terms of crafting a certain kind of haunted house thrill ride experience. I think anyone who enjoyed "Insidious" is going to be surprised in a very pleasant way by what he's up to with the sequel, and with that hitting theaters not long after "The Conjuring," I think the sequel could explode in a way the first film didn't.
I'll say this for Marc Webb: he's got good taste in casting.
Chris Cooper is now onboard to play Norman Osborn in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," which means he could well be menacing Peter Parker right there alongside Electro (Jamie Foxx) and The Rhino (Paul Giamatti).
That's a lot of characters to juggle for a blockbuster which is also introducing Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Mary Jane Watson (Shailene Woodley) into the series. We still have no idea if The Daily Bugle and J. Jonah Jameson are going to be brought into Webb's series any time soon, and we also don't know exactly how these new characters are going to be used.
Osborn was kept off-screen in Webb's first film. We heard mention of him, but he quite literally stayed in the shadows. It was obvious that they were building to a reveal, and having someone like Cooper play the part pays off that tease. The question now is which version of Osborn we'll be seeing in the film. Is he going to already be deeply involved in the research that transformed him into the Green Goblin? Or is he going to try to reverse engineer the accident that gave Peter his spider powers and is that what's going to push him over the edge?
Here we are with the newest frontier in entertainment reporting. Now we are reporting at the moment that someone is ready to walk into the room to pitch a project. There was the story last week about the pitch for a remake of "The Stooge" starring Roger Rabbit and Mickey Mouse at Disney, and I think there's more to say about that this week, but that's all it was… a pitch. The studio hadn't made a decision yet, and in the case of Guillermo Del Toro's proposed "dark DC" movie, currently titled "Heaven Sent," it's also true that no decisions have been made yet.
Instead, today's story is that Del Toro is now ready to present his version of the story to the studio to see if this is something they want to to continue to develop or if it's too esoteric. Right now, Warner Bros is taking a ton of heat over the way they're making decisions about the superhero properties they own, but I'll give them credit for at least taking occasional chances in development. I am a huge fan of "Galaxy Quest," and the script by Robert Gordon is one of the best comedy scripts of the last 20 years. Gordon has not had the huge career I expected when I first read "Galaxy Quest," but he has written a few unproduced gems, the best of which was "Bizarro," which is exactly what it sounds like. He told a Superman story in which Superman only appeared for about three pages, and the entire rest of the film was about Bizarro's time on Earth doing his best to be Superman, mangling the task in every possible way. It is a hell of a read, and I would have loved to have seen it. I get why they didn't make it, but it would have been glorious to see trailers for a "Bizarro" movie and then listen to the general public's collective "WTF?!" every time it played. They've also developed several different versions of a possible "Lobo" movie, and while I'm not a huge "Lobo" fan, I think it's cool that they were willing to even consider doing the character as a movie.
You schooled us pretty hard the last time there was a WGAw strike. You made a pretty convincing case for a Hollywood without writers, and while we'll never admit it to you as a group, you broke us. You really did. And it has ruined the industry that I love in a million small ways that you're not even going to notice for a decade or so, and when you do, it may well be too late. You fought us over money and your right to more of it, and you hurt us enough to make us take a deal that we knew in our hearts was not right.
If you try to do the same thing to the VFX industry, you are going to lose.
I'm not telling you this because I want you to win. I just don't think you realize that this is not the same situation as when the writers decided to strike. You are correct. You can indeed lowball us and force us to do free rewrite after free rewrite and you can screw us on points and offer us insulting archaic math problems instead of real profit participation and we'll smile and ask for more. But if you start putting FX houses out of business and trying to lowball that side of the business, you may be crippling yourself.